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Hispanics Fear Persecution By Law Enforcement

Many Hispanics across Oklahoma are living in fear. They say they fear persecution at the hands of local law enforcement. Many Hispanics across Oklahoma are living in fear. They say they fear persecution at the hands of local law enforcement.

Many Hispanics across Oklahoma are living in fear. They say they fear persecution at the hands of local law enforcement. News On 6 Anchor Jennifer Loren reports some Hispanic members of the Tulsa Police Department are trying to address those fears.

Tulsa Police officer Jesse Guardiola recruits and trains police force hopefuls. He's also a link to the Hispanic community.

"They ask, whether in English or Spanish, 'What's the police department's stance on it?'" said Jesse Guardiola.

He says the Tulsa Police Department has been put in the middle of the immigration issue, especially since certain Hispanic leaders have publicly stated police can't be trusted.

"You have a problem at your home, you have a robbery, you have a crime against you, call the FBI. We cannot trust the Tulsa Police Department or the sheriff department," said Rev. Miguel Rivera.

Tulsa Police officer Jesse Guardiola says that's not right. Speaking for the Tulsa Police Department, he encourages Hispanics, legal or not, to continue reporting crimes.

He says a rush of unreported crimes could be extremely harmful to the Hispanic community.

"You become more of a target when the criminal element realize that you're not doing anything about it. And again, once they realize that I can hide amongst you or target you, well then you're an easy target," said Tulsa Police officer Jesse Guardiola.

The bottom line, he says, is that Tulsa police are here to serve and protect, no matter who you are or where you're from.

"We want to stand on that line and help those that can't help themselves," said Tulsa Police officer Jesse Guardiola.

The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office says the only Hispanic people who need to worry about being deported are the ones who are here illegally and are caught committing a crime.

Originally aired 11/2/2007 4:58 PM - Updated 11/2/2007 7:37 PM

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